The Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) in Norcross, Ga. envisioned a truly flexible AV solution for their new $17 million Long Forum sports and concert arena. Over the course of an average week, the facility would be required to serve as a basketball arena with 4,000 seats, a concert hall with tour-quality sound, and a sanctuary for weekly worship services, and needed high-tech sound, light, and video solutions to help make it all happen as seamlessly as possible. In particular, the school wanted their new sound system to perform as if it had been specifically designed for each of these individual applications, with no compromises in sound quality or user-friendliness, and all controlled at the touch of a button. Enter The ESB Group of Birmingham, Alabama and Electro-Voice audio.
â€œThe school needed a unique solution,â€? says Larry Bounds, CFO, The ESB Group. â€œTheir vision for Long Forum was so groundbreaking that the schoolâ€™s administrators traveled across the country looking for another school, church, or any facility that had done something similar to what they had in mind â€“ a three-in-one facility. As far as they could see, no one else had ever attempted to design a space of this kind. They spoke to people who had designed multi-purpose buildings, but nothing seriously church, seriously concert, and seriously basketball all at the same time. So the school decided that they needed a completely new approach, and we were happy to help.â€?
GACSâ€™s vision for Long Forum proved so revolutionary that it stumped even the most seasoned of Georgiaâ€™s AV professionals. The ESB Group, originally hired only to install the sound system, was quickly appointed as the complete AV system designer after GACSâ€™s ideas for their arena-slash-concert hall sent other prospective designers running.
â€œSome of the other designers just couldnâ€™t grasp GACSâ€™s vision, whereas we saw it as a challenge,â€? says Bounds. â€œWe listened to what the school said, which was essentially â€˜we want tour-grade sound for everything that happens in this space,â€™ took that vision and used the best equipment we could to meet their needs â€“ Electro-Voice.â€?
After a sit-down with the school, Bounds went to work with his engineering team (headed by Chief Engineer Beau Blackwell) to design a system that would bring the vision of the school to fruition.
â€œDuring the design process, Steve Land (of regional EV reps EDA Pro Group) made the implementation of EV product into the design effortless,â€? Bounds says. â€œHe supplied us with everything we needed to make sure the system would not only perform to our technical standards but also to our service standards. We began designing the system knowing that we needed to hit concert SPL. Everyone has their own idea of what that level is, but in our case we wanted to push the system to 115 dB. And, of course, we needed to balance that with superb intelligibility.
â€œTo thoroughly investigate the options, we looked at systems from four leading manufacturers,â€? Bounds continues. â€œEVâ€™s XLC line array system was remarkable as it offered audio quality equal to or greater than the other boxes, but at a more accessible price point. EVâ€™s value proposition, their bang-for-the-buck, was obvious for all to see â€“ and hear. This allowed us to rest assured with a high-performance audio spec that was well within budget, meaning we could to focus remaining funds on the HD video spec.â€?
After completing design and installation of an extensive system (described in detail below) The ESB Group brought in George Georgallis from Electro-Voice to fine-tune the rig and make final adjustments. Bounds comments:
â€œGeorge did an awesome job tuning our system. We usually handle every aspect of our installations in-house, but when it came to tuning the system we brought EV in because I felt it would be great to include someone who knew the product so well.â€?
The design of Long Forumâ€™s new system is divided into two distinct parts, one for basketball functions, and the other for concert events. The main concert speaker system comprises 16 XLCi127 DVX boxes (flown in arrays of eight per side) and eight XLC215 subs in two arrays of four boxes, flown between the mains. The system also includes four ground-stacked Xsubs, recessed under the stage, and a central array of four XLE boxes for front fill. The system provides unmatched rider-friendliness, with enough flexibility, power, and low-end to meet the needs of any touring artist playing GACSâ€™s new facility.
The ESB Group designed an equally impressive speaker system for basketball sound reinforcement, which includes a centrally-flown main array of 18 white XLCi127 DVX boxes with a single array of four XLC215 subs. To increase the capability of the forumâ€™s entire system, the speakers in the basketball system were designed to also function as a delay system for the concert system, providing coverage to rear sections of the arena. And to ensure that coverage was not lost in the wings of the forumâ€™s sizeable upper bowl during basketball games, The ESB Group prescribed six of EVâ€™s 1123A/106F Xi Series boxes to provide delay fills.
Adding to the long list of Electro-Voice equipment at Long Forum is a small army of EVID loudspeakers. The ESB Group placed 25 EVID C8.2 speakers for coverage throughout the building and four EVID 6.2 surface-mount speakers over the Forumâ€™s staircases and in the arenaâ€™s broadcast room as studio monitors. The ESB Group brought in five state-of-the-art NetMax processors to help control GACSâ€™s extensive system. Four N8000s reside in the amp room, used to control the changes between their basketball and concert systems through IRIS-Net. One more NetMax unit controls the sound in the broadcast room.
The ESB Group found training the schoolâ€™s IT team to use the system very straightforward. And now GACSâ€™s senior high school students are getting enthusiastically involved, as Bounds explains:
â€œThe control of NetMax and IRIS-Net has made life for the faculty at the school very easy,â€? says Bounds. â€œThe most they need to do with the system is turn it on and off, and this rig is so fail-safe that anyone can use it. In fact, because the system is such a wonderful example of todayâ€™s most current A/V technology, the school has begun teaching a class that covers the basics of audio engineering to its students. One of the students who trained on the equipment even e-mailed me to say thank you for the equipment and the system. After taking the class and using the rig, he decided to pursue a career in electrical engineering instead of law. The system really changed his life. Good audio can do that!â€?
Greater Atlanta Christian School has been enjoying their system since the grand opening of Long Forum on Jan. 30. The administration, faculty, parents, and students are extremely happy with their EV sound.
Photos: Ben Keeling www.benkeeling.com
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